Round Table Goodbyes: Bye-loit and the Problem Is

Kate Flynn and Mary Keister circa summer 2009. Photo courtesy of Kate Flynn.

By Mary Keister

I’ll fully admit: I’ve been trying to avoid graduation. I haven’t started gathering boxes for what is sure to be a last-minute packing extravaganza. My graduation gown is probably gathering wrinkles, crumpled up underneath a pile of sheets and towels. I’ve even put off writing this, my last Round Table column, until pretty darn late on Thursday night.

When I first received an e-mail from Caitlin MacDougall ’10 in November 2009, I was a little freaked out. Me? News editor for The Round Table? But … I didn’t play Frisbee that well! I didn’t have any sense of fashion! Heck, I wasn’t even in Beloit that semester! But as I quickly realized, that didn’t matter. The RT editors were, and continue to be, a band of misfits, my teammates, my frarority brothers and sisters, my journalism family in search of a good solid story and an hour or two of sleep. Ruby Jennings ’10 and I bonded over our love for Georgia Duerst-Lahti and mojitos. Julia Heney ’10 and I became — gasp! — Facebook friends. I met Bert Connelly ‘13, and we’ve been fast friends ever since.

When Caitlin sat me down one day in the spring and asked me how I’d feel about being editor-in-chief, another freak-out commenced. I didn’t know squat about how to work with our printing press, manage our ad agencies, fix the finicky Internet in the Round Table office, or pick up and distribute the papers Friday morning. At that point, I wasn’t even good at pulling all-nighters. But I was joined in the fall by an exemplary editorial staff, and anytime I got stuck or frustrated, there was always someone sitting on the blue couch in the Round Table office, cheering me on.

I’m excited to begin a full-time journalism career, but a piece of me also dreads the “real world.” I can’t imagine bopping around a newsroom with my future editor at 4 in the morning listening to music that probably should have stayed in the ‘90s. And I’m guessing I won’t be able to schlep into work in sweatpants and scuzzy rainboots. What am I even going to do with my Beloit wardrobe? Does the real world have theme parties?

It’s been a great four years, Beloit. Thank you. But now it’s time to graduate and move on to our next adventures, and in the words of Bruce Springsteen,

“we gotta get out while we’re young,

‘cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

By Kate Flynn

The problem is, I never really thought this day would come.

This obviously makes me delusional, but let me explain. Sure, those mythical days when I’d have to give up my campus mailbox, order my last Wisconsin on wheat at the Java Joint and write this very good-bye column for The Round Table were always a theoretical eventuality looming over my happiest days at this schoolbut they never felt real. I’ve never been able to picture my post-Beloit life with any kind of clarity, and I’m finding that I still can’t. As of right now, I’m bound for Washington D.C. in July, but I don’t know what my (inevitably crappy) apartment will look like or what’s going to happen when I’m jonesing for a Spotted Cow and there isn’t one bottle to be had in the entire D.C. metropolitan area. I don’t know if I’m going to like grad school. I do know that there will be a gaping hole in my Thursday nights without the usual flurry of editing and Bert Connelly’s offensive rap music, and I know that I’m going to be hard pressed to find another publication that will mean as much to me asThe Round Table has for the past three years.

I still hold a very clear memory of walking up the three flights of stairs in Pearsons on Monday nights as a sophomore and walking back down half an hour later, already composing the lead for the story I was going to write. I loved seeing my name in print and feeling like I’d accomplished something tangible each week, even if that “something” was only 500 words long. To say that The Round Table gave purpose to my college career would be an understatement. From my underclassman days on, when the editors seemed like the flyest people I’d ever seen, to my own recent 2 a.m. writing and editing sessions, I have spent every Monday night, and eventually Thursday nights too, on the third floor of Pearsons, grappling with AP style and/or taking part in groupthink decisions to order Palermo’s. These have simultaneously been some of the most fun, rewarding and taxing nights of my college career. I fear that my life will be meaningless once I stop waking up on Friday mornings feeling as though I’ve been run over by a Mack truck.

And so, Beloit, the problem is this: in a matter of days, I’m going to have to throw away my beloved ripped tights and discard the broken, tattered collapsible blue laundry hamper I’ve owned since August 2007. I’m going to have to relinquish at least one of my three pairs of cowboy boots to the Give-and-Take and break my addiction to Bagels and More’s delicious, hangover-curing lox bagels. The days of walking 50 yards to sing along with T-Pain and most of my best friends on any given weekend night are rapidly coming to a close, as is my Ultimate Frisbee career. I never thought this day would come, but it has. What am I going to tell people on the outside, when they ask me what Beloit was like? I’m going to tell them that Beloit gave me innumerable gifts, the most notable being the free pair of Give/Take boots I picked up at the end of my sophomore year. I’m going to tell them that I was involved with my school newspaper, knowing full well that I will never be able to do the experience justice in mere words.



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